The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2Allen, Thomas
History of London continued to the accession of George the Fourth.
History of London continued to the accession of George the Fourth.
On Tuesday morning, , a deputation from the Quakers waited upon the emperor of Russia at the Pulteney hotel, and presented him an address, with some books. This day the king of Prussia visited the and the company's warehouses. About on Wednesday morning, when the emperor rose to prepare for his
|departure from town, people were no longer admitted into the hotel as spectators; and all the visitors were in the prince regent's carriage by o'clock: as they were entering, a woman presented the emperor of Russia with a book; another offered him a fine rose, which he presented to his sister. The carriage then drove off to the ; and, lastly, to Turner's patent rope manufactory at . About o'clock they passed over on their way to Portsmouth, where having been entertained with a grand naval review in the presence of the duke of Wellington and the prince regent, they left Portsmouth to visit the duke of Norfolk at Arundel castle: from thence to the prince's pavilion at Brighton; and afterwards continuing their journey to Dover, they embarked for the continent.|
On the a splendid entertainment was given by the corporation to the duke of Wellington in the ; the duke of York, several of his royal brothers, and numerous distinguished officers having accepted the invitation, on their arrival they were severally conducted by the members of the common council through the hall, the military bands of music in the galleries playing the national air of
to the common council room, which was fitted up as a drawing-room, where they were received by the lord mayor. And on the arrival of his grace the duke of Wellington at the porch of the , he was received by the chairman and members of the committee, and, preceded by them, entered the hall, where he was greeted by long and loud shouts of applause, the ladies in the galleries waving their handkerchiefs, and the bands striking up,
From thence his grace was conducted through the passage, formed by the members of the court of common council in their mazarine gowns, to the common council-room, and presented to the lord mayor at the upper end, who immediately rose, and, in the name of the corporation, welcomed his grace to the entertainment. His lordship then, taking his seat, and having several of the distinguished characters who had been invited, and the aldermen, standing on both sides of him, and the members of the court of common council forming themselves into a body in front, Mr. Chamberlain advanced, and having administered the usual oaths of a freeman, admitted his grace the duke of Wellington in the freedom of the city of London, in the accustomed manner, with the sign of fraternity, and giving joy: and, on presenting the sword and gold box to his grace, addressed him in the following words:
His grace the duke of Wellington then, bowing to the lord mayor and chamberlain, took from his side his own sword, and giving it to of his aides-de-camp, put on the sword which had been presented to him, and expressing his high sense of the honour conferred upon him by the corporation of London, attributed, under Divine Providence, the success of all his enterprizes to the ability with which he was supported by his brother officers, and to the valour and discipline of the allies. His grace then declared his readiness to employ the sword he had just received in the service of his sovereign and his country, should it unfortunately happen, that the general wish of the nation and of Europe for a permanent peace should be disappointed.
The members of the common council then retired; soon after which, dinner being announced, a procession was formed from the common council-room into the hall, in the following order:
The Committee, with wands.
Officers of the Lord Mayor's Household.
Principal City Officers.
The Lord Mayor's Chaplain.
The Common Crier and The Sword-bearer,
Serjeant at Arms, bearing bearing the City the Mace. State Sword.
The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor.
His Royal Highness the Duke of York,
Commander in Chief, conducting
His Grace the Duke of Wellington.
The Royal Dukes.
The Aldermen and Sheriffs.
The Lord Chancellor.
English and Foreign Nobility.
Particular persons in the suite of
His Grace the Duke of Wellington.
Foreign Ambassadors and Ministers.
Naval and Military Officers.
Other Persons of Distinction.
The Members of the Court of Common Council.
On entering the hall the procession turned to the right, and, going round the tables at the west end, the ladies in the galleries had an opportunity of seeing the illustrious hero, and the other distinguished characters accompanying him. The procession was received with reiterated shouts of applause; and the band the whole time played,
then, proceeding to the eastern end of the hall, the company took their seats at their respective tables. The city officers returning to the table under the gallery on the right hand of the entrance into the hall, and next to the platform at the upper end; the members of the court of common council to the several tables appropriated to them by lot; and the officers of the lord mayor's household to the coffee-house, where a dinner was provided for them, as also for the suites of the lord chancellor and the judges.
At the principal table, at the upper end of the hall, the party were seated in the following order:
The ministers of state, nobility, particular friends of the duke of Wellington, aldermen, and distinguished parties invited, taking their seats as had been appropriated for them at the tables on the platform.
The dinner was as sumptuous as possible, and consisted of distinct courses, the principal table being served on plate.
was sung by the vocal performers in the orchestra; and, after a flourish of trumpets, the right honourable the lord mayor proposed as the toast,
which was received with reverential silence.
The succeeding toasts were severally announced by a toast-master, stationed at the back of his lordship, after a flourish of trumpets, and were received with the loudest applause.
His lordship, in proposing the health of the illustrious hero field marshal the duke of Wellington, addressed him, nearly in the following words:
Which was received with continued cheerings and plaudits.
And his grace, in reply, totally disclaimed any particular merits attaching to himself; but attributed it, under Divine Providence, to the perseverance of the nation, the wisdom of his majesty's councils, the care and attention of his royal highness the commander in chief, and the brave co-operating exertions of his fellows in arms, so many of whom he felt highly gratified in seeing
|surrounding him upon this occasion; and, above all, he had the honour of commanding an army of Englishmen, who lost not an atom of the spirit of their country, and behaved as Englishmen should do.|
After dinner, in the course of the evening, the temporary staircase was opened from the galleries, in like manner as at the entertainment to his royal highness the prince regent, and the ladies descended and mixed with the company in the body of the hall.
Soon after, the lord mayor rose, and, with his grace the duke of Wellington, the royal dukes, the aldermen, and others of the company, retired to the common council room, where refreshments of tea and coffee were provided for them; and which refreshments were also provided for the remainder of the company in other rooms of the .
At half past o'clock his grace the duke of Wellington departed, having been conducted to his carriage by the members of the committee; and shortly afterwards the royal dukes, and the principal part of the company took their leave.
The grand fete, which had long been preparing for the celebration of the peace, was fixed for the , and an official programme was issued, in which the public were informed that a beautiful Chinese bridge had been thrown over the canal, upon the centre of which had been constructed an elegant and lofty pagoda, consisting of pyramidal stories.
On the arrival of the , all the parks were filled with curious spectators; the lawn in front of Buckingham-house was enclosed for the purpose of filling and sending up a balloon, which about o'clock ascended with Mr. Sadler, who safely arrived on Macking marshes, Essex. About o'clock the pagoda and bridge were brilliantly illuminated, and made a very beautiful appearance, unfortunately it soon after caught fire, by which persons were severely hurt, and died soon after. The fire works in the were of the most splendid kind, and the temple of concord, with its allegorical paintings, had an elegant appearance. In was a fair and the , or sea-fight, on the Serpentine, with fire works on the water. No disturbance of any consequence occurred, and the metropolis soon regained its usual appearance of business, though the fair was not suppressed till the .
THE session of parliament was opened on the , by a speech from the prince regent, of which the leading topics were the pending negotiations at Ghent, and the intended congress at Vienna. Adverting to the supplies for the ensuing year, his royal highness regretted the necessity of so large an expenditure, and concluded by recommending that parliament should proceed with due caution in the adoption of such regulations as might be necessary for extending the trade of Great Britain, and securing her commercial advantages. The usual address was carried without a division.
The last and most important event of the year was the conclusion of the American war, the plenipotentiaries assembled at Ghent, and a treaty of peace and amity was signed on the , which was afterwards ratified by both governments. The treaty,
|which was negotiated on the part of America by Messrs. Adams, Bayard, Clay, Russel, and Gallatin, and of Great Britain by lord Gambier, and Messrs. Goulburn, and Adams, was silent on the grand cause of the war and primary object of dispute--the right of search; but, as America abandoned her claim of compensation for the captures made under the British orders in council, and omitted all mention of her original pretensions, her resistance to the maritime claims of England must be considered as tacitly abandoned. All conquests, on either side, were to be restored, Britain retaining the islands in Passamaquoddy bay, which were hers by the treaty of . Under this article the Americans had only the defenceless shore of the Detroit, on the frontier of the provinces, to offering exchange for their fortress of Niagara and the important post of Michilimackinac, both of which were still in possession of the British. The Indians were to be restored to their rights and possessions which they held in ; it was reciprocally agreed that commissioners should be appointed for settling disputes respecting boundaries; and both parties engaged to continue their efforts for the entire abolition of the slave trade.|
The interval between the actual conclusion of the treaty, and the circulation of that important intelligence, enabled the English navy to obtain another triumph. The President, of the largest frigates yet sent to sea by the United States, commanded by captain Decatur, accompanied by the Macedonian, armed brig, laden with provisions, sailed from New York during of those gales in which the blockading squadron was driven out to sea. After a long chase the Endymion, captain Hope, came up with the former, when a severe action ensued in which the President, having crippled her adversary in the rigging, was enabled to get a-head. The British frigate Pomona now coming up, the President surrendered, after exchanging a few broadsides. The mutual advantages of a free interchange of commercial communication between countries, whose interest it is at all times to cherish the relations of peace, were resumed shortly after this event; and in both was the termination of the war hailed with unfeigned satisfaction.
On , the stone of the was laid by admiral lord viscount Keith, K.B. attended by sir J. Jackson, bart. M. P. chairman, and the rest of the committee of management. The company afterwards repaired to the temporary bridge erected on the works, and partook of a cold collation.
At this period a long litigated question as to the rental upon which the Mansion-house ought to be assessed for the poor's rate between the city and the parish of St. Mary Woolnoth, was terminated in favour of the latter. Serjeant Runnington, who was appointed arbitrator, having awarded that all the rates were fair
|and equal, and that the Mansion-house should continue to be rated and assessed upon a rental of per annum.|
The committee of the stock exchange, on the anniversary of the De Berenger hoax, distributed the sum stopped on account of the fraud, to different charities, as follows: to the , , , , , other charities each. other charities each. other ditto, each. other ditto, each.
The foundation stone of the college of the in , was laid by the lord mayor, in the presence of the aldermen, sheriffs, lord Carrington, president of the institution, and a very numerous body of the proprietors, on the in this year. An address was delivered by Mr. Butler, the standing counsel of the establishment, on the return of the company to the City of London tavern, where a sumptuous entertainment was served up.
On , Mr. Planta arrived from Paris with the definitive treaty of peace. The event was communicated by earl Bathurst to the lord mayor; and the government offices and the public buildings, were splendidly illuminated on the evening of the .
, was the day appointed for a general thanksgiving, the eagles taken at Waterloo was solemnly deposited in in the presence of the duke of York, a great number of military officers, and a large assemblage of ladies and gentlemen. The regiments of foot guards were inspected by the commander-in-chief, accompanied by the dukes of Kent and Gloucester.
Parliament re-assembled on the , when the state of the corn laws occupied the attention of the house of commons. On the , resolutions were moved in a committee, which, after allowing the free warehousing of grain for re-exportation, or to be taken for home consumption when the price should permit, fixed the average at per quarter for wheat, and proportionally for corn; that is to say, when British corn should not be below that price, foreign might be admitted duty free. A bill framed on the resolutions was introduced on the , and, after encountering a strong opposition in both houses from the manufacturing and commercial interest, was passed on the by the lords. The apprehension of dearth, as the immediate consequence of this law, occasioned several riots in various parts of the country, which were not quelled without military aid.
In the metropolis, on , various persons assembled in the neighbourhood of the house of commons, and as the members
|appeared, either cheered or hooted them, as they supported or opposed the corn-bill. Several members were stopped, and ultimately the civil power being found insufficient to repress the riot, the horse-guards were called, and succeeded in clearing the street; the populace in the evening broke the windows of lord Eldon's house in , Mr. Robinson's in , and forced the doors and destroyed part of the furniture of lord Darnley's in , and Mr. Yorke's in ; they also attacked and destroyed several other mansions. On the next day they attacked the house of lord Castlereagh in , and the house of Mr. Robinson a time, from the parlour window of which shots were fired, which proved fatal to innocent persons; the cavalry appearing, the rioters desisted and retired, to vent their fury by damaging the mansions of lord Bathurst, lord King, Mr. Meuxs', &c. The riots continued more or less to the latter end of the week.|
Among the several petitions to parliament, that of the city of London to the house of commons, presented an extraordinary number of signatures, persons having signed within hours.
A message from the prince regent to both houses of parliament, on the , announced the marriage contract of his daughter, the princess Charlotte Augusta, with his serene highness the prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg; and, on the motion of the chancellor of the exchequer, an annual sum of was voted to the illustrious pair during their joint lives; of which was to form a sort of privy purse for her royal highness- If the prince should die , the whole sum was to be continued to her royal highness; if he should be the survivor, the sum of was to be continued to him; the sum of was also granted by way of outfit.
On , the ceremony was solemnized by the archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of the queen, the prince regent, the dukes of York, Clarence, and Kent, the princesses Augusta, Sophia, Elizabeth, and Mary, and other branches of the royal family; after the ceremony, the bride and bridegroom left town for Oatlands, the seat of the duke of York. Immediately after the conclusion of the ceremony, the Park and Tower guns were fired, and the evening concluded with other public demonstrations of joy throughout the metropolis.
The distress of the lower classes throughout the kingdom was excessive towards the latter end of this year. Numerous meetings were holden to consider the means of alleviating the general distress, and large subscriptions were raised; but at several of the assemblies ostensibly convened for the most benevolent purposes, persons of seditious principles came forward to inflame the minds of the people, by asserting that the abolition of places and pensions, and a reform in parliament, would prove a remedy for every evil. Of the meetings of this nature, those which were
|holden in Spa-fields, near London, are the most remarkable. On the many artizans and others, assembled for the alleged purpose of petitioning for relief under their distress, were addressed by a person named Hunt in a long and violent harangue, and it was determined that a petition to the prince regent should be presented by him, accompanied by sir Francis Burdett; but the latter did not choose to appear in the business, and Mr. Hunt was informed that it could only be presented at a levee, or through the medium of the home secretary. On the another meeting was convened to receive the answer to the petition, when an alarming breach of the peace took place. A young man, named Watson, after uttering an inflammatory harangue, seized a flag from of the bystanders, and, heading a party of the populace, led them into the city, and attempted to plunder the shop of a gun-smith on Snowhill. He fired a pistol at a gentleman, named Platt, who was remonstrating with him, and for this offence was apprehended, but in the confusion that ensued he escaped; and the riot, which might have produced incalculable mischief, was checked by the spirited conduct of the magistrates, and entirely quelled by the appearance of a military force. During this disturbance, the principal part of the assemblage remained in Spa-fields, where another petition was determined upon, and another meeting appointed.|
On the , parliament was opened by the prince regent in person, when the chief topics of the speech were, the continued assurances of amity received from foreign powers; the splendid success of the bombardment of Algiers, with the consequent renunciation of the practice of Christian slavery ; and the successful termination of the campaign in India. The annual estimates had been formed under an anxious desire to make every reduction in the public establishments which the safety of the empire and true policy would allow; but his royal highness regretted to state that there had been a deficiency in the produce of the last year's revenue; he trusted, however, that it was to be ascribed to temporary causes; and he had the consolation to believe that it would be found practicable to provide for the service without making any additions to the burdens of the people.
The riotous spirit which had lately displayed itself again broke out on this occasion; and the prince regent, on his way to the house, was assailed by tumultuous expressions of disapprobation from an unusually large concourse of people, whose conduct, on the return of the procession, became more violent, the royal carriage being attacked with stones and other missiles in an alarming manner. This outrage was communicated to the house of peers by lord Sidmouth, when the consideration of the usual address in answer to the speech was postponed till the following day, and a conference was held with the house of commons, at
|which a joint address, congratulating his royal highness on his escape, was agreed upon. A proclamation was issued, offering a reward of for the apprehension of the offenders, but they were never discovered.|
On the the master and wardens of the company of ironmongers presented lord Exmouth and sir D. Milne to the chamberlain in his outer office at , as freemen of that company in the presence of the lord mayor and several naval and military officers, who served under his lordship at Algiers; when the chamberlain having perused the certificates from the company administered the usual oaths; and agreeably to resolutions of the court of common council admitted them into the freedom of the city of London; after which he presented to each a superb sword.
About this period a new silver coinage was issued from the Mint to the amount of in half-crowns; in shillings; and in sixpences.
The report of the secret committee of the house of lords was presented on the , and commenced by stating that the committee found that there was no doubt that treasonable conspiracies had been formed in the metropolis and elsewhere, which had for their object the total overthrow of the laws and government, and the indiscriminate plunder and division of property. That in August last, different meetings had been held in the metropolis, arms were purchased, and other measures of the like kind resorted to. At subsequent consultations it was resolved to call a public meeting in Spa-fields, which was fixed for the . The conspirators had prepared addresses, and circulated them in gaols, informing the prisoners they would shortly be liberated, when they would be armed by the provisional government. They were also desired to prepare themselves with tri-coloured cockades, emblematic of the approaching revolution. Plans were also formed for an attack upon the Tower, pikes were manufactured to arm the people, leaders were appointed to conduct the assaults in different districts, and fire-arms were distributed amongst those who were considered most worthy of confidence. While these arrangements were forming, the leaders of the conspiracy were found, night after night, in public houses, working up the minds of the people whom they might meet there, so as to render them ready instruments to execute any project, however desperate. Exertions were also made to win over the soldiers to their cause. Tri-coloured flags were prepared, together with a banner, on which was inscribed,
and it appeared that, down to the d of December, they had the fullest confidence of success. Communications regularly took place between the conspirators in the metropolis, and persons actuated by similar feelings in other parts of the
|country; and matters were so regulated as that their efforts should be devoted to the same purpose in different quarters at time: for which end it was agreed that they should all hold meetings on the same day, and thereby effect a general rising at once; and this was to be done under the pretence that they were to petition the prince regent, the real object being to promote a spirit of insubordination; a contempt of all laws, whether religious or otherwise, an equal division of all property, and a restoration to what was termed natural rights. The next point upon which the report touched, was the existence of societies in different parts of the kingdom, under the titles of Hampden clubs, Spencean philanthropists, &c. the intent of which was, under the disguise of constitutional proceedings, to extend the plans of devastation and destruction already described. A reference was then had to the administration of secret oaths, and to the extraordinary measures which were taken by the conspirators to prevent a discovery of their plots-plots which were found to have existence in all the great manufacturing towns throughout the country, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, &c. The last topic alluded to was the publication of inflammatory and seditious works at a cheap rate, the object of which was to root out all feelings of religion and morality, and to excite hatred and contempt for the existing state of things. The committee, in fine, attributed the late attack upon the prince regent to the effect produced by those publications; and expressed it as their decided opinion, that the civil power, as at present constituted, under all the circumstances stated, was insufficient for the preservation of the public peace. On the following evening a report similar in object and effect, was presented from the committee of the house of commons.|
In consequence of the circumstances developed by the secret committee of parliament, persons, of the names of Watson, Preston, Hooper, and Keene, were apprehended, and committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason. A reward of was also offered for the apprehension of a person of the name of Thistlewood; and a further reward of for the junior Watson. The metropolis, indeed, as well as several other parts of the kingdom, was for some time in a state of great alarm.
The parliamentary consequence of the reports of the secret committees was a motion by lord Sidmouth, in the upper house, for the suspension of the act, until the , then next ensuing. A bill to this effect was passed, and ordered to the commons, where it went through its different stages with rapidity; and, on the , received the royal assent. In the lords, a protest against the measure was signed by eighteen peers, on the ground that the existing laws were adequate to the danger. Lord Castlereagh gave notice of farther measures for
|the protection of the country against the machinations of the disaffected. These were, , the extending of the act of , for the security of his majesty's person, to that of the prince regent; secondly, the embodying into act the provisions of the act of , relative to tumultuous meetings and debating societies, and the provisions of the act of the of the king, which declared the illegality of all societies bound together by secret oaths, and of such as extended themselves by fraternized branches over the kingdom; and lastly, the making of enactments to punish with the utmost rigour any attempt to gain over soldiers or sailors to act with any association or set of men, or to withdraw them from their allegiance. Numerous petitions against these proposed restrictions on public liberty, particularly against the suspension of the act, were presented to parliament; and in the respective houses they were opposed, in every stage of their rapid progress, by such members as usually stood forward to advocate the privileges of the people: they, however, finally received the sanction of the legislature.|
On , being the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, the magnificent bridge, which crosses the Thames from , was opened with a grand procession; his royal highness, the prince regent, the dukes of York and Wellington, in the uniform of field marshals, followed by a concourse of nobility and gentry, repaired in state barges from to the Surrey side of the bridge, which they ascended, and crossing the bridge, descended the Middlesex side, and returned to . On the arrival of the prince regent, guns were fired; being the number of cannons taken at Waterloo.
In the month of June, the senior Watson was, with Thistlewood and some others, put upon his trial, on a charge of high treason, in the court of King's Bench; but chiefly from the discredit thrown on the testimony of the principal witness, named Castles, an accomplice or spy, and a man of base character, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
On , a proclamation was issued, announcing the delivery of a new gold coinage, called
of the value of ; the amount issued was . in sovereigns, and . in half-sovereigns; total
The latter part of the year was marked by an event that filled the nation with mourning. The princess Charlotte of Wales, whose nuptials had, in the preceding year, afforded so much satisfaction to the country, was in a situation likely to afford an eventual heir to the British throne. Seldom, perhaps, had the hopes and wishes of a whole people been so deeply interested on a similar occasion. At o'clock, however, on the night of the , her royal highness was delivered of a still-born male child; and at half-past , on the morning of the , she expired, to the inexpressible grief of the royal family; and
|throughout the metropolis, and the country in general, the indications of sorrow were unusually general and sincere.|
In consequence of the queen's declining health, amendments had been made in the regency bill, during the last session of parliament; the , empowering her majesty to add new members, resident at Windsor, to her council, in the event of her absence from the palace; and the repealing the clause which rendered necessary the immediate assembling of a new parliament in the event of the queen's death. These amendments were very opportunely made; as, after a lingering illness of months, which was sustained with great fortitude and resignation, her majesty expired at Kew palace, on the , in the year of her age. She had been blest by nature with a sound and vigorous frame, having, until within years of her decease, enjoyed an almost uninterrupted state of health. Her remains were interred in the royal vault at Windsor, on the .
In the early part of , a party which had received the appellation of
obtained much notice by their active exertions among the lower orders, chiefly of the manufacturing classes. of their steps was an application to the magistrates of Manchester, to convoke a meeting, for the alleged purpose of petitioning against the corn-bill, which was refused; and, in consequence, the meeting was summoned by an anonymous advertisement. Mr. Hunt, who had been selected as the leader of the day, was conducted to the place of meeting by an immense multitude, in a sort of triumphal procession, and a strong remonstrance to the prince regent was adopted: the assemblage, however, dispersed without tumult. This meeting was followed by many others of a similar nature, at Glasgow, Leeds, Stockport, and other manufacturing neighbourhoods; the strong measures of precaution, however, that were taken by the respective local authorities, had, in most instances, the effect of preserving order and tranquillity, though there was a marked contrast between the peaceable demeanour of the auditors, and the inflammatory character of the language in which they were addressed. On these occasions, the want of a true representation of the people was pronounced to be the grand source of all our evils; for which, annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and election by ballot, were pointed out as the only cure. At meeting, there was a discussion whether the people had a right to destroy the ; and some suggestions were thrown out, as to the expediency of a division of landed property, and a recurrence to physical force. By some, however, it was contended that these suggestions, which happily produced no practical results, were made by spies; and it is not improbable, that the agents of government, whose duty could not legitimately extend beyond the
| office of observing, and faithfully reporting the proceedings which took place, might, and there can be no doubt, did, occasionally exceed their instructions. On , the was opened for passengers; there was no ceremony observed on the occasion, but as clock struck the toll of penny commenced. In Smithfield a meeting took place on the . Some degree of alarm was naturally felt by the inhabitants of the metropolis on this occasion; and, for the purpose of preventing riot or disorder, very extensive and judicious precautions were taken, both by the government and the police. Mr. Hunt was elected to the chair, and a number of strong resolutions were passed, to the effect that, as the persons at present composing the house of commons had not been fairly chosen, the meeting could not consider themselves bound in equity by any of their enactments, after the ensuing January. Towards the conclusion, several police officers arrived, and took a Mr. Harrison, an itinerant preacher, into custody, for using seditious language at a similar meeting, held at Stockport, in Cheshire, a few days before. When the officers seized him, a few voices proposed resistance, on which Mr. Hunt requested them to let him go quietly. |
The remonstrance to the prince regent, which had been agreed to at a meeting in Palace-yard, , on the , was adopted, and numerous speeches followed; in the course of which Mr. Hunt stated, that the penny subscriptions to promote the cause of reform, which had been calculated to create, in a year, a fund of , amounted, at the expiration of months, to only and sixpence. This enormous assemblage finally separated without tumult. The Manchester reformers, who had posted up notices of a meeting to be holden on the , for the purpose of proceeding to the election of a representative, as at Birmingham, was informed by the magistrates that, as the object of the proposed assemblage was unquestionably illegal, it would not be suffered to take place. In consequence of this determination, they relinquished their design, and issued notices of a meeting, for the avowed legal object of petitioning for a reform in parliament, on the . An open space in the town, called field, was selected as the place of assembly; and never, upon any former occasion of a similar nature, was so great a number of persons known to be present. Some hours before the proceedings were to commence, large bodies began to march in from
| the neighbouring towns and villages, formed deep, many of them armed with stout staves, and preserving a military regularity of step. Each body had its own banner, bearing a motto; and, under a white silk flag, clubs of female reformers appeared. The number collected were estimated at . A band of special constables, stationed on the ground, disposed themselves so as to form a line of communication from a house where the magistrates were sitting to the stage or waggon fixed for the orators. Soon after the business of the meeting had been opened, a body of yeomanry cavalry entered the ground, and advanced with drawn swords to the stage: their commanding officer called to Mr. Hunt, who was speaking, and told him that he was his prisoner. Mr. Hunt, after enjoining the people to be tranquil, and offering to surrender to any civil officer who should exhibit his warrant, was taken into custody by a constable, and several other persons were also apprehended. Some of the yeomanry now cried out, |
and they began to strike down the banners which were raised in various parts of the field-when a scene of dreadful confusion arose; numbers were trampled under the feet of men and horses; many persons, even females, were cut down by sabres; some were killed, and the maimed and wounded amounted to between and . In a very short time the ground was cleared of its former occupants, and military patroles were stationed in the principal streets of the town to preserve tranquillity.
Much difference of opinion has ever since prevailed on this subject; and it has been justly observed by a late historian, that the Manchester meeting is of those events, upon which, in all its variety of details, historians will never be found to agree. Whether the riot act was actually read is still a moot point: the reformers and their friends insist that it was not; the magistrates and their adherents contend that it was. And certainly if it was read, the affirmative of the proposition would have been more easily established than its negative. The whole appears to have taken place within minutes, by which time the field was entirely cleared of its recent occupiers, and filled with different corps of infantry and cavalry. Hunt and his colleagues were, after a short examination, conducted to solitary cells, on a charge of high treason. On the following day notices were issued by the magistrates, by which the practice of military training, alleged to have been carried on in secret, by large bodies of men, for treasonable purposes, was declared to be illegal. Public thanks were, by the same authority, returned to the officers and men of the respective corps engaged in the attack; and, on the arrival in London of a despatch from the local authorities, a cabinet council was held, the result of which was the return of official letters of thanks to the magistrates, for their prompt, decisive, and efficient measures for the preservation of the public tranquillity, and to all the
|mili-tary engaged, for the support and assistance afforded by them to the civil power.|
For some days the town of Manchester and its neighbourhood were in a state of constrained quietness, although some further disturbances, in which or lives were lost, had taken place. At a meeting held at the Crown and Anchor, in London, a string of resolutions, strongly censuring the conduct of the magistrates and military, and returning thanks to Mr. Hunt and his colleagues, were unanimously adopted; as was also a resolution to raise a subscription for defraying the expences of counsel, &c. in defence of the prisoners. In the same spirit a meeting was likewise holden in Smithfield; and a spirited letter was also addressed to the electors of by sir Francis Burdett, for the writing of which, as a libel, he was afterwards tried and convicted. In pursuance of this letter, an immense multitude assembled in Palace yard, , on the , for the purpose of declaring an opinion on the conduct of the magistrates and yeomanry of Manchester. After speeches which occupied hours in their delivery, by sir Francis Burdett, and Mr. Hobhouse, his colleague in the representation of , several resolutions were adopted, declaring the assemblage at Manchester a lawful meeting; that the outrage on that occasion was an attempt to destroy by the sword the few remaining liberties of Englishmen, and that it was another lamentable consequence of the want of a real representation; an address to the prince regent, founded thereon, was unanimously agreed to.
On , a court of common council was held at to take into consideration the conduct of the magistrates and yeomanry cavalry of Manchester, on the . The court was of the most crowded ever known. The lord mayor took the chair at o'clock, and opened the business by stating that he held the court with great reluctance, because, whenever crimes were alleged to be committed, they ought to be referred to the proper tribunal before whom the necessary evidence would be laid, instead of discussing them elsewhere. Alderman Waithman addressed the court at great length, and urged the necessity of calling for a full inquiry into the atrocities committed, which he considered not only unequalled in our history, but a great public outrage committed on the constitution. He concluded by moving a series of resolutions which were supported by Messrs. Hurcomb, Patten, Crook, Pearsall, and Taylor; and opposed by aldermen sir W. Curtis, and Rothwell, Messrs. Browne, Dickson, and Jackson. Upon the question being put by the common serjeant, the lord mayor declared the resolutions carried by considerable majority.
The circumstances of the Manchester case turned out to be such, that government found it expedient to abandon the threatened prosecution of Mr. Hunt and his colleagues for high treason, and
|those persons were accordingly informed that they would be proceeded against for a conspiracy only, which might be bailed; but Mr. Hunt refused to give bail, even, as he said, to the amount of a single farthing; some of his friends, however, liberated him. His return from London to Manchester was long triumphal procession, waited upon by thousands, on horse, on foot, and in carriages, who hailed him with continued shouts of applause.|
On , Mr. Hunt triumphantly entered the metropolis through , , , , , round , , , to the Crown and Anchor tavern, Strand, where a dinner was provided at o'clock. Mr. Hunt was seated in a landaulet drawn by horses, decorated with scarlet ribbons, and preceded by a flag, having inscribed on it,
It was supposed that not less than persons of either sex accompanied him; after a short speech from Mr. Hunt, the whole dispersed without accident or disorder.
On , the corporation presented the address voted in the common hall to the prince regent at Carlton-house, when his royal highness was pleased to return the following answer:--
His royal highness having delivered his answer, the deputation took their leave of the royal presence, and returned in the same order of procession to the city.
The lord mayor having refused to convene a common hall on the subject of the Manchester meeting, the livery, on , before commencing the regular business of the election of a chief magistrate, entered into several resolutions, condemning the
|course pursued by the magistrates, and censuring the conduct of the lord mayor.|
Amidst the general ferment which had been produced by these circumstances, the meeting of parliament was impatiently waited by all parties, and it assembled on the .
observed the prince regent in the opening speech,
On the succeeding day the promised documents respecting the state of popular feeling were produced: they consisted, in part, of the correspondence of official persons with the home secretary; and, in part, of communications to such persons, made by individuals whose names were withheld. Such of the letters of the Manchester magistrates as had been written previously to the expressed apprehensions that a formidable insurrection was in contemplation: at the same time they bore testimony to the deep distresses of the manufacturing classes, and assigned hunger as the natural cause of the willingness of the poor to listen to any project for the melioration of those sufferings.
On the of the same month, the lord chancellor introduced a bill, which he said he had long contemplated. It had been the practice of the courts to allow defendants, in cases of informations or indictments, to imparle or traverse. As great inconveniences had arisen from this practice, as trials were sometimes delayed till a very remote period, and as the ends of justice might thus be defeated, the bill would take away from the defendant the right of traversing; allowing the court, however, to postpone his trial, upon his showing ground for the delay. Earl Grey at once entered his protest against the whole of the measures, which, as it appeared, were in preparation, as calculated to bring the greatest misery, if not ruin upon the country. On the reading, earl Grosvenor contended that, whilst the attorney-general was allowed to hold informations over the heads of
|defendants for an indefinite length of time, to abolish the right of traverse was greatly enhancing the grievance. Lord Erskine also objected to the measure, as depriving the people of an ancient and important privilege. On the other hand, the earl of Liverpool contended, that if their lordships did not pass this bill, they had better at once declare that every description of sedition and blasphemy should be invested with full toleration. Lord Holland urged that, in fairness, the measure ought to be so ordered as to legislate on both sides, by preventing the delays which occurred by prosecutions on informations, as well as by those of indictment; and, agreeably to this suggestion, the lord chancellor, on the reading, proposed an additional clause, compelling the attorney general to bring a defendant to trial within a year, or to enter a The bill, thus amended, was agreed to without opposition.|
The other bills introduced by administration were to the following effect:--An act to render the publication of a blasphemous or seditious libel-punishable, on a conviction, at the discretion of the court, by fine, imprisonment, banishment, or transportation; and to give power, in cases of a conviction, to seize the copies of the libel in possession of the publisher; a stamp duty equal to that paid by newspapers, on all publications of less than a given number of sheets, with an obligation on all publishers of such pieces, to enter into recognizances for the payment of such penalties, as might in future be inflicted on them.
The liberty of the press being thus restrained, meetings were to be controlled by the following provisions :--That a requisition for the holding of any meeting, other than those regularly called by a sheriff, boroughreeve, or other magistrate, should be signed by householders; and that it should be illegal for any persons, not inhabitants of the place in which such meetings was hold, to attend it: also, that magistrates should be empowered, within certain limitations, to appoint the time and place of meeting. To repel danger from the mustering of an illegal force, it was proposed to prohibit military training, except under the authority of a magistrate or lieutenant of a county; and, in the disturbed districts, to magistrates the power of seizing arms believed to be collected for unlawful purposes, and also to apprehend and detain persons so carrying arms. The only of these bills which passed without opposition was that for the prevention of secret military training. The bill for the seizure of arms, which, under certain circumstances, and in particular districts, authorized search to be made in private houses, by day or night, was strenuously resisted in both houses: and, upon an amendment for omitting the words
the house of commons divided-Ayes ; Noes, . A clause of the blasphemous and seditious libel bill, by which offenders were, upon
|a conviction, subjected to the punishment of transportation, passed the house of lords, but ministers found it expedient to withdraw it in the commons. The penalty of banishment, however, which had been previously unknown to the English law, was allowed to be enacted. In its progress the seditious meeting bill was subjected to a modification, by which all meetings held in any room or building were exempted from its operation. Several limitations of the bill for subjecting small publications to the newspaper stamp-duty were also introduced.|
The protracted existence of the venerable monarch who had so long swayed the British sceptre was now drawing to a close. In the month of November the hitherto firm health of his majesty underwent a sudden alteration; and, although the dangerous symptoms were for a time removed, a general feebleness and decay ensued, which portended no very distant dissolution. In the midst of the anxiety caused by this change, the public regret was excited by the loss of the duke of Kent, who was seized with an inflammation on the lungs, and expired, after a short illness, on the , in the year of his age. In person his royal highness was manly and noble, in stature tall, in manners dignified, yet affable. He was easy of access, temperate in habits, and in the army acquired the reputation of personal courage. In politics he took no very active part, but attached himself to the whig or popular party; and, whenever any charitable object was to be promoted, his name and presence needed little solicitation. He left an infant daughter, named Alexandrina Victoria.
On the , days after the death of the duke of Kent, his venerable father expired without a struggle, in the sixtieth year of his reign and the of his age. Over the last years of his life an awful veil had been drawn. In the periods of the deepest national solicitude his mind had felt no interest; in the hour of the most acute domestic feeling his eye had been tearless; almost the last time that this venerable sovereign appeared in public, was on the day when his people, with accord, devoted themselves to rejoicing in honour of his completion of the fiftieth year of his reign, a period far beyond the common term of dominion. He was buried in the royal vault at Windsor .
In pursuance of established usage, the cabinet ministers assembled on the morning subsequent to the demise of the late king. When his present majesty held his court at Carlton house, which was numerously and brilliantly attended by all ranks and parties, who eagerly offered their homage to the reigning monarch, the re-appointment of the lord chancellor, and several ministers, was the exercise of sovereign power, the oaths of allegiance being administered to those present. A council was, in compliance with the royal ordinance, immediately holden; and all his late majesty's privy councillors then in attendance were sworn as members of his
|present majesty's council, and took their seats at the board accordingly.|
The of his majesty took place publicly in the metropolis on Monday, . To account for this apparent , it is only necessary to call to attention, that the late king expired on the Saturday evening, the following morning being Sunday, , the anniversary of the martyrdom of Charles I., a solemn fast is appointed by our church, and consequently this pageant would have been inadmissible.
The proclamation was made on the steps of Carlton palace, in the presence of his majesty, his royal brothers, and the principal officers of state. The procession then formed in the following order, and proceeded to Charing-cross:--
On arriving at Charing-cross, the proclamation was again read, and the procession proceeded to Temple-bar, where the usual formalities of closing the gates, and admitting of the heralds to shew his authority, having been gone through, the cavalcade entered the city, and were joined by the lord mayor, sheriffs, and several of the aldermen; the proclamation was read at the end of , at the end of , , and at the , when the heralds and the military returned.
 From the account published by order of and for the corporation, 1815.
 Gents. Mag. 1815, part i. p. 560.
 Ibid p. 175.